Friday, July 14, 2017

Protection to RTI activists: State asked to submit report in 4 weeks

Times of India: Bengaluru: Friday, July 14, 2017.
The HC on Thursday granted four weeks to the state government to submit report about formulating a policy framed for providing protection to genuine RTI activists and whistle blowers.
"If three months is counted, it should be May 17, 017 before which the decision was to be taken including framing of the policy . Since there is already a delay and the protection of RTI activist or whistle blower is in the larger interest of society, we direct the accused (Subash Chandra, additional chief secretary ) to consider the matter and report in four weeks about the policy ," a division bench headed by Justice Jayant Patel observed while adjourning the proceedings in the contempt petition filed by S Umapathi to August7 .
The petitioner, who had filed a PIL on the same issue, had submitted representation to the government on February 17, 2017 in terms of the directions issued by the division bench headed by Chief Justice. The court had earlier asked the authorities to consider his representation and take a decision in three months.
The high court on Thursday stayed further proceedings based on the March 8, 2017 sanction granted by the state government to proceed against senior RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat.
Justice Aravind Kumar passed an interim order after hearing the petition filed by Bhat. The court also ordered notice to the home secretary of the state, SHO of Puttur police station in Dakshina Kannada district, and Ashraf, member of Popular Front of India, the complainant. Following the sanction order, police had submitted a chargesheet to the local court in Puttur. On June 24, 2017, the CJM court issued summons to the petitioner after taking cognizance of the case wherein Bhat was charged under Section 153A and Section 505(2) of IPC.
According to the petitioner, he never encouraged any communal disharmony, and the complaint was registered to tarnish his image.He claimed that the government has accorded sanction without judiciously scrutinizing the material.Also, the FSL report submitted on January 8, 2016 indicates that electronic evidence enclosed is not original and that the complaint was filed only for political revenge, citing the recent reports attributing that the district minister had asked the local police to register cases against him, he argued.
On January 23, 2015, Ashraf had filed a complaint alleging that Bhat delivered speeches which were in the nature of creating communal disturbance at a public meeting organized by VHP . Based on this, Puttur police registered a case under Section 153A.